This tour was designed at very short notice-72 hours to be exact!- to replace the cancelled West Papua trip, concentrating on remote and seldom visited areas that held spectacular and little-known endemics. The D’Entrecasteaux Islands were the eastern equivalent of the Western Papuan Islands that we had intended to visit, and the Huon BoP’s substituted for the Arfak species. Warili Lodge gave most of the group a second shot at some of the more tricky highland species, and Keki lured us with promise of the fabled Fire-maned Bowerbird, pioneered by Phil in 2000. We got a fine selection of the 400 endemics in New Guinea, which is home to some of the most spectacular and bizarre birds in the world. The tour was also as ever memorable for the people we met, and the wonderful sites we visited in the “Land of the Unexpected”.
Logistics were formidable and we were often flying by the seat of our pants, but fortunately it all panned out and we did well. Weather favoured us in the islands, where this is a good time of year to visit, unlike August-September when the winds are contrary for sea trips. The Women’s Guest House at Esa’ala was a good base, and having David along made things much easier, whilst the boat crew and cook from the tour agency were fantastic. Imagine our delight when David knew of a Goldie’s site that was in the lowlands, saving us a lengthy flog up into the hills, and we scored the two target BoP’s quicktime.
The Huon Peninsula was wet season stuff, but even here we worked around it and only got totally drowned out on one day. Kabwum GH was a real pit and we thankfully knocked it on the head very quickly, a grumpy caretaker not helping. The alternative house in Wasu itself was fine, albeit without power, and the caretaker and a neighbour looked after us very well. The council car was the only vehicle in town, doubling as school, bus, ambulance etc. and it was amazingly nice of them to ferry us up into the hills at dawn each day, then come and pick us up of an evening. I have seldom been so thankful as when that truck showed up at Satop in a deluge mid-afternoon, after we had squelched down from the Kabwum Pass, and were dreading trying to get back to Wasu!
The Ambua area was reasonable, even quite dry for a change, and we only got really wet one dusk, whilst Stephen and his crew did a fine job for us at Warili, which even has a functioning generator these days. Transport was a headache as ever, and we had to go through various ad hoc arrangements to get vehicles, using lorries a couple of times and being ripped off by aggressive highlander PMV drivers during one improvisation. Still, it sort of worked out and we picked up most of the desired species.
Keki proved to be the final and greatest challenge, as the road was diabolical, even worse than in 2003. Our lead truck did manage to negotiate one narrow dodgy section, but only after a rear wheel slipped over the edge and the whole truck rocked precariously, giving those of us watching a suspenseful experience! We did not try this manoeuvre with the second vehicle, instead piling all the bags and some of the folks into the first truck to drive the 5 km up to the lodge, whilst the rest of used shank’s pony. It was actually not too bad, as it stayed mercifully dry and we arrived after a couple of hours uphill slog into thick mist, still in daylight too. Walking out we had the luxury of porters, who cheerfully ferried our weighty bags down to the nearest village some 6 km down the mountain, where we met up with the ever cheerful Busy Bee and crew for transport back to Madang and the pleasure of a hot shower. I fear vehicular traffic up to Keki is a thing of the past now, as Melanesian Tours are unlikely to agree to hire cars and drivers for this escapade again!
We began as ever near Port Moresby, where Yellow-faced Myna and Grey-headed Mannikin were our first endemics at the attractive small lakes at the Pacific Adventist University. We also had lovely views of Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove, Comb-crested Jacana, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (plus a nice bower), and a delightful Papuan Frogmouth.
It was then over to Alotau, where we were fortunate enough to get David Mitchell to come with us at very short notice, and the trip out to East Cape to meet up with our boat crew. The trip over to Normanby was calm, and we soon logged Curl-crested Manucode in the hills behind Esa’ala. The day trip to Fergusson gave us lots more of this species, plus the beautiful Goldie’s Bird-of-Paradise in display, and the supporting cast in the islands included Grey Imperial-Pigeon, Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove, the local red-capped race of Papuan Black Myzomela and a surprise Little Ringed Plover.
The Huon was logistically challenging, but our time and effort was amply rewarded with decent views of both male and female Huon Astrapia, and great looks at males and females of the very scarce Wahnes’ Parotias. An unexpected bonus was an immature male Emperor Bird-of-Paradise on our last morning, where at one time all three endemic BoP’s were in the same area. Spangled Honeyeater was quite common, and some of us got a brief look at a Huon Melidectes, though Cinnamon-browed was the default species here. Black-mantled Goshawk, Little Red Lorikeet, Vulturine Parrot, Papuan Sittella and the endemic race of Mountain Kingfisher all showed well too, though I wish everyone had got a look at the Huon (and probably splittable) taxon of Macgregor’s Bowerbird that showed briefly up at the pass.
The beautiful national park at Varirata gave us nice views of the spectacular Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher perched quietly at close range, and later two unexpected Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers. The lek gave us a marvellous view of an incredible perched male Raggiana, sitting quietly for some while. Our outings there gave us very nice looks at Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Frilled and Spot-winged Monarchs, the diminutive Mountain Red-headed Myzomela, and Hooded Pitohui. Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler showed for some too.
Ambua is one of the world’s top birding destinations, and we had fair weather for our next 4 nights here. We put together the A-team of Joseph and Benson as our local guides and fixers, though roads and bridges were amazingly in excellent – well, pretty good, condition this time. The birding was as great as ever, a deal easier than the lowlands where we had worked so hard. We made a good start on finding our wants, the customary birds of paradise like Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Brown Sicklebill and King of Saxony opening the account in spectacular fashion. We also had lovely views of Brown Quail, Papuan Harrier, Meyer’s Goshawk, Brehm’s and Modest Tiger-Parrots, Papuan Lorikeet, Tit-berrypecker, Dimorphic Fantail, Hooded Cuckoo-shrike and Oriental Hobby.
The fantastic moss-festooned Antarctic beech forests below the Tari Gap gave us unforgettable sightings of male and female Ribbon-tailed Astrapias, Chestnut Forest-Rail, Papuan Log-runner, Lesser Ground-Robin, Ashy and White-winged Robins, Blue-capped Ifrita, both Papuan and Black Sittellas, Crested former Bird of Paradise and Crested Berrypecker. Benson’s Blue Bird site also paid off, with lovely scope views of a male Blue Bird-of Paradise with a bonus Lawes Parotia and calling Superb Bird nearby. One group luckily once again saw the rare Black Sicklebill near Warili in the early morning.
Madang was as beautiful as ever, though the trip to Keki was an adventure in itself, yielding Banded Yellow Robin, Lesser BoP and the legendary Fire-maned Bowerbird as some of the main prizes. The ponds at Alexishafen gave us beautiful views of Spotted Whistling-Ducks, plus Eurasian Little Grebe at one of its few PNG sites as a finale.
Our trip ended back in Cairns and the delights of the quarantine system, thanks to the group for their patience and understanding with the hastily rescheduled itinerary, and their good company and humour in the field in what is a peculiarly difficult country for birding. Particular thanks to Trevor Ford for help with the rush job of printing, and for making the trip cover plus an informative information section, to Owen Davis for putting it all together at unbelievably short notice, and to David Mitchell for his invaluable assistance over in the islands. Thanks also Joseph Tano and Benson for their help with birds at Ambua, Stephen Wari for his hospitality and good cooking at Warili, Kiwa for help at Piakonda, the amazing Busy Bee at Madang, Moyang and his wife at Keki and Kevin at Port Moresby. I must also thank my wife Sue for her help and forbearance as we entered panic mode following the forced Indonesian election-related cancellation! 10Q tru.
Sunday March 7th
Cairns, Air Niugini flight to Jackson’s Airport, Port Moresby: PAU grounds pm.
Overnight at the Gateway.
Monday March 8th
POM-Gurney-Alotau D 0600, arr. 0720. Drive to East Cape 2 hours, then 4 hours to Esa’ala on Normanby in the D’Entrecasteaux Islands on calm seas. Birding around Esa’ala, overnight at the Women’s Guest House
Tuesday March 9th
Esa’ala to Sabutuia on Fergusson Island. D 0615, arr. 1015, then D 1700 and back to Esa’ala by 1830. Overnight at the Women’s Guest House
Wednesday March 10th
D 0600 to Deidei on Dobu Island (20 min), D 1245. To Hot Springs on Fergusson 1430-1730, 20 min by sea, 45 min walk. Overnight at the Women’s Guest House
Thursday March 11th
Esa’ala to East Cape 4 hours in calm seas. To Alotau/Gurney then POM, overnight at the Gateway.
Friday March 12th
POM-Lae Air Niugini-Wasu with North Coast Aviation 30 min flight. Wasu to Kabwum, then back to Wasu. Overnight at Wasu GH.
Saturday March 13th
D 0645 Wasu to Kabwum Pass crest at 1900m. Rain and fog much of the day. Started walking back by 1500 and back to Wasu by 1700. Overnight at Wasu GH.
Sunday March 14th
D 0600 Wasu-Kabwum Pass crest. Overnight at Wasu GH.
Monday March 15th
D Wasu 0615, arrive Satop 0730-1430. Very little rain and fog! Overnight at Wasu GH.
Tuesday March 16th
D Wasu 0800 North Coast Aviation to Lae. Lae-POM on PX D 1310 A 1400. Overnight Gateway.
Wednesday March 17th
D POM 1000 PX to Mendi, then SW Airlines to Tari and lorry to Warili. Overnight Warili.
Thursday March 18th
B’fast 0600. Warili to Ambua AM, Tari Gap and Roadside Pm, Feline O-N dusk. Overnight Warili.
Friday March 19th
B 0600 Warili- Forbes’ FR track, then Dauli TC 1500-1630 FON at dusk, then rain. Overnight Warili.
Saturday March 20th
Warili: One group for Blue Bird to Wata village, Eric, Dave and I to Joseph’s Trail and Tari Gap AM. Below container area PM whole group. Overnight Warili.
Sunday March 21st
B 0600, Warili to Piakonda then Tari, D 0930 SW Air to Mendi then Air Niugini to POM D 1115, arrive 1230. Varirata 1500-1800 then Gateway overnight.
Monday March 22nd
Varirata D 0530, park 0700-1200. Air Niugini POM to Madang 1600, arr. 1700. Overnight at Melanesian Resort.
Tuesday March 23rd
Madang to Keki, 51/2 hours, walking the final 5 km and arriving 1500. Overnight Keki Lodge.
Wednesday March 24th
Thursday March 25th
Keki 0530-0930, then walked out 5 km to meet the vehicles and head back to Madang, overnight at Melanesian Resort.
Friday March 26th
D 0600. Madang to POM and Cairns via Air Niugini. Cassowary House overnight.
Bold type denotes a New Guinea endemic species. * denotes a near endemic.
Species which were heard but not seen are indicated by the symbol (H).
NL means a non-leader bird. Names follow the existing current PNG or Australian usage, and the imposed names from Sibley et al and Clements are given with some reluctance where major confusion exists.
Eurasian Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Seven at Alexishafen Ponds were our only sightings of what is a very local species in NG.
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
A couple at the PAU.
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel
A single off Normanby, then 5 on the trip back to Alotau. Some also saw one off Madang.
Frigatebird sp. Fregata sp.
A couple on each leg of the voyage out from Alotau.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (NL)
Seen by some at Madang.
Reef Egret E. sacra
Singles on Normanby.
(Great White Egret Egretta alba)
Dave now retracts his fly-by on Normanby after I gave him a hard time about it!
Pied Heron E. picata
A single at the PAU ponds.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Odd birds in the Port Moresby area only.
Spotted Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna guttata
An adult and 2 juveniles at the now very overgrown Alexishafen ponds.
Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata
32 at the PAU ponds.
Radjah Shelduck Tadorna radjah (NL)
A single flying by Esa’ala on Normanby was unexpected. I was sorry I missed it as it may be a new bird for Normanby Island, though known from Fergusson and Goodenough.
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
One at the PAU was all we saw this trip.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Singles on Fergusson and one at Wasu.
Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda
A single at Keki.
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
One seen nicely at rest near Piakonda.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
A few near POM and frequent at Madang, a strangely local species in PNG.
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Nice views at the PAU and Madang, nesting at the former site.
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
Good views of this attractive bird on Fergusson.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Two seen at Wasu.
* Variable (Grey) Goshawk Accipiter (novaehollandiae) hiogaster
Just a single at Wasu this trip. The form here has now been split from the Grey Goshawk since it differs so much from the Australian species.
Brown Goshawk A. fasciatus
A single on Dobu.
Collared Sparrowhawk A. cirrhocephalus
Singles on Fergusson.
Black-mantled Goshawk A. melanochlamys
We did unusually well for this normally scarce species, seeing them daily above Satop, and then one at Ambua as well.
* Meyer’s Goshawk A. meyerianus
A single seen nicely above Ambua, then the Blue Bird group had another lower down the valley. A rare species.
New Guinea Harpy-Eagle Harpyopsis novaeguineae (H)
One heard below the Bailey Bridge.
Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides
Trevor found us one soaring over the ridge by Mendi airstrip.
Brown Falcon Falco berigora
A few around Satop.
Oriental Hobby Falco severus
One bird along the Waterfall Trail, we initially found them here in July 2001, at the upper end of their altitudinal range at 2000m. Two seen at Keki as well, always a sparse species.
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius reinwardt
A single on Fergusson. .
Black-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla fuscirostris
One glimpsed by a couple of us at Varirata, where it was calling as well. A huge leaf mound nest was seen as well.
Brown-collared Brush-turkey Talegalla jobiensis (H)
Yet again, heard at close range at Keki but as usual not tape responsive. Phil still hasn’t seen this species!
PHASIANIDAE Game birds
Brown Quail Coturnix australis
Two at the PAU briefly, and then great views of three on the road up at the Tari Gap.
RALLIDAE Crakes and rails
Buff-banded Rail Rallus philippensis
One at Ambua, across the road.
Chestnut Forest-Rail Rallina rubra
Fantastic views of a pair up in the forest by the wrecked container below Tari Gap, and another heard there. It has become much harder to find in recent years and we failed at a number of other old sites.
Red-necked Crake Rallina tricolor
Eric and I surprised one beside the Varirata Lookout trail, and it dashed off with a guttural squawk, my first definite sighting from here though I have seen crakes dash across up at the Gare’s Lookout. It seemed much more vivid red on the head than the FNQ birds. Luckily everyone got it at Cassowary House at some point!
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
A single seen at the PAU.
Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio
Lovely views of the black backed race melanotus at the PAU and Jackson’s Airport, split by some.
Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea: What a great little bird, well seen at the PAU and Alexishafen.
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Seen at Alotau and on Normanby Island, then three at Tari Airstrip and three at Mendi.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
An adult of the local race dubius at the Hots Springs on Fergusson was most unexpected, though there is a record of the species from Goodenough in October, of uncertain race. The subspecies in New Guinea dubius has a very different call compared to Palearctic birds and could well be a split. Also up to four at Nadzab Airport at Lae, probably displaced by flooding from the Markham River.
Greater Sand-Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
A couple at Alotau.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Just a single seen on the islands.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Seen at Alotau and on Normanby.
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes
Two at East Cape.
LARIDAE Gulls and Terns
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus (NL)
Trevor and Howie saw one en route to Fergusson Island.
Crested Tern Sterna bergii
Just a couple seen at sea.
Common Tern S. hirundo longipennis
A few migrants at sea, up to 30 being the maximum.
Black-naped Tern S. sumatrana
Two at sea off Fergusson.
Little Tern S. albifrons
Three off Fergusson March 9th and five next day.
Bridled Tern S. anaethetus
Quite common, with up to 40 being seen in the offshore waters.
Black (White-capped) Noddy Anous minutus
150 on March 8th at sea off East Cape, and 70 there on March 11th.
Brown Noddy A. stolidus
One off Normanby on March 9th and two on March 11th.
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus
A single at sea off East Cape on March 8th, with a skua sp. there on March 11th.
COLUMBIDAE Pigeons and doves
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Four of uncertain origin in Wasu. This is a scarce species in PNG.
Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove (Brown Cuckoo-Dove) Macropygia amboinensis
Widespread in small numbers, the first on Fergusson then seen at Wasu, Varirata and Keki. This is a split from the Brown Cuckoo-Dove of Australia.
* Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove M. nigrirostris
Two at the Pass above Satop, and one at Warili.
* Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtii:
Heard at Warili and the Blue Bird group saw one of this truly spectacular bird.
Emerald Ground-Dove Chalcophaps indica (H)
Heard on Dobu Island only.
* Stephan’s Ground-Dove C. stephani
One at Keki and one heard there next day.
Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata
A few around the PAU, Nadzab and Varirata
Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
Three at the PAU and one near there later in the trip.
Cinnamon Ground-Dove Gallicolumba rufigula (H)
This mega-skulker was heard up at Keki.
Wompoo Fruit-Dove (Pigeon) Ptilinopus magnificus (H)
Heard up at Varirata.
Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus perlatus
Five seen at Varirata, then better views of the distinctive pale grey-headed north slope race plumbeicollis up by the Lodge at Keki.
Ornate Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus ornatus
Two up at Ambua by Joseph’s Trail, and one up by Keki Lodge, typically a hill forest bird.
Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove P. aurantiifrons
One at the PAU was a pleasing find, then unexpectedly common in the islands, being seen on Dobu, Normanby and Fergusson. This is one of the scarcer fruit-doves on the mainland.
Superb Fruit-Dove P. superbus
A male up at Varirata.
Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus
Heard up at Keki and seen by some.
* Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove P. viridis
Two seen nicely on Dobu Island were a pleasing find of an elusive species. This is the endemic race vicinus.
White-bibbed (breasted) Fruit-Dove P. rivoli
One above Satop, then common at Ambua this time with ten seen on March 14th. Typically the higher altitude fruit-dove.
Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus iozonus
Twelve seen up by Keki Lodge, of the race jobiensis, which lacks a maroon shoulder bar.
Dwarf Fruit-Dove P. nana
This tiny and scarce species was seen briefly at Varirata and Keki.
White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis
This very scarce bird was seen very nicely in flight twice along the approach road to Varirata, on March 21st and 22nd, a very unexpected find of a species I have not seen here previously.
Rufescent Imperial-Pigeon Ducula chalconota
Lovely views of three of this very local hill forest species found by Ron in a fruiting tree near the pass above Satop.
Pinion Imperial-Pigeon Ducula pinon
Nice views of both flyovers and perched birds from Wasu as we awaited our flight.
* Grey Imperial-Pigeon Ducula pistrinaria
This small island specialist was seen on Normanby and Fergusson in small numbers.
* Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii
Common at Ambua this time with up to 80 in a day. Poorly named, as it’s quite widespread in lowlands and hills as well as the mountains. Notably none were seen in the Huon Peninsula.
* Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus (H)
One was heard as we were coming down from Keki.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Seen well on Normanby and Fergusson and at Keki, and sounding quite different to Australian birds, with a blue periopthalmic ring.
Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata
Ten at Wasu as we awaited our flight out.
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
Nice views at several sites, but none on the islands was noteworthy.
Goldie’s Lorikeet Psitteuteles goldiei
Six above Ambua, flight views only. A scarce and very nomadic species.
Western Black-capped Lory Lorius lory
Two above Satop, then good views up around Keki.
Eastern Black-capped (Purple-bellied) Lory Lorius hypoinochrous
A few seen on Normanby, Fergusson and Dobu
Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis (H)
Heard up at Keki.
Little Red (Fairy) Lorikeet Charmosyna pulchella
Seven just above Satop, always a scarce and highly nomadic species. Sori tumas Trevor!
Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou
Good views of this stunning endemic in the Satop and Ambua area, including the melanistic form, which must be one of the world’s most beautiful parrots.
Plum-faced Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki
This delightful tiny lorikeet only gave flight views up at the Tari Gap.
Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii
Small numbers in the Ambua area, not as many as usual.
Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda
One seen very well at Tari Gap.
Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii
Two seen on Dobu, creeping about in the depths of a leafy tree (sorry Ron!), and another briefly on the walk down from Keki. This genus has the world's smallest parrots.
* Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot M. pusio
A male seen well above Satop, then two in the Piakonda tall garden near Warili.
Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot Psittacella brehmii
Good views of this lumbering great beast up at the Tari gap area.
Modest Tiger-Parrot P. modesta
Two seen above Ambua, including a male on one day. An elusive and tricky species to identify.
* Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi
Heard on Fergusson, then a female seen up near Keki.
* Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus
Small numbers seen on Normanby, Fergusson and Dobu, and heard with a single female
seen at Wasu.
Vulturine (Pesquet’s) Parrot Psittrichas fulgidas
A flock of ten up at the pass above Satop at 1900m gave fantastic views in the late afternoon sunshine on March 12th , and we saw a single male near Satop on March 14th. Listed as Near Threatened by BirdLife International. Skins of this species fetch hundreds of kina in the highlands, where they are valued as decoration in traditional dress.
Papuan King-Parrot Alisterus chloropterus
Heard several times up at Warili and Piakonda, with birds seen on two dates.
CUCULIDAE Old World Cuckoos
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus (H)
Heard on Fergusson, at Wasu and Varirata.
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
One was seen by some at Wasu, and another up along the approach road to Varirata on March 22nd.
Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris (H)
Heard up at Keki.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo C. flabelliformis
One seen at Wasu, and heard in the Ambua area. This is a montane species in NG.
Gould's or Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Malay Bronze) Chrysococcyx (malayanus) minutillus /russatus (H)
Heard on Dobu and Fergusson, and also at Wasu. The resident race here is poecilurus, similar to russatus. The Gould’s / Little Bronze split as in Australia breaks down totally in PNG, and Clements wisely lists it as Malay Bronze, lumping the two forms.
Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx ruficollis
Two seen at Ambua, this is the high altitude bronze-cuckoo in NG.
Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva (H)
Two heard in the Keki area.
Common (Asian) Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus (H)
Heard up at Keki, Clements splits the Australian and southern NG forms as Australian Koel.
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
Seen on Fergusson Island.
Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus
Singles on Normanby, and again at Varirata.
STRIGIDAE Typical owls
Barking Owl Ninox connivens
A single seen in daylight at Varirata, where they seem to like the car park area.
Papuan Boobook (Jungle Hawk-Owl) N. theomacha (H)
Heard at Esa’ala on Normanby, then at Warili and finally at Keki.
* Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
Two on our visit to the PAU, unbelievably well camouflaged in a huge rain tree.
Feline Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles insignis (H)
We got one calling along the new trail below the Bailey Bridge, but it would not come closer. The second attempt was rained off, with a miserably wet lorry ride back to Warili.
Archbold’s (Mountain) Nightjar Eurostopodus archboldi
Nice spotlight views of one up by the quarry again, this is a quite rare and little known species.
Mountain Swiftlet Collocalia hirundinacea
First seen at the Pass above Satop/Kabwum, then again above 2000m at Ambua where it was widespread this time.
Uniform Swiftlet Collocalia vanikorensis
Seen throughout the mainland lowlands, but only a single seen by some on the islands.
Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
None on the islands was a surprise, but it was common in the hills and lowlands up to 2800m, the white belly a good field character.
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Three of this Asian migrant at Varirata on March 22nd were unexpected.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
One at Alotau.
Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea
One on Fergusson and one at Varirata.
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
An excellent bird, seen very nicely in the POM savannas.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud (H)
Heard at Wasu, Varirata and near Keki.
Forest Kingfisher Halcyon macleayii
Lovely views near Varirata and Madang.
Collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris (H)
Heard on Fergusson en route to the hot springs.
Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta
Just a single at Alotau, nearly all are still in Australia.
Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina (H)
Heard in the rain at dusk below Satop.
Yellow-billed Kingfisher Halcyon torotoro
Seen very well at Varirata, a terrific bird, and heard below Keki.
Mountain Kingfisher Halcyon megarhyncha
A superb bird came in to the tape just above Satop, of the endemic Huon race sellamontis which is supposed to have an all yellow bill, except this one had some dark on the upper mandible. Structurally it was clearly the large montane species and not the diminutive lowland bird. Also heard at Warili and Ambua. This can be very difficult species to find.
Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera danae
Great views of an adult at Varirata, a rare bird only found in SE PNG.
* Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher T. sylvia
Great views of an adult and an immature along the Varirata Lookout trail, perhaps early migrants from Australia but possibly of the local race.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
Four very distant birds at Nadzab.
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Five early birds at Varirata, and heard at Alotau.
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
One at Wasu, heard on Dobu and some great views Keki, presumably all of the resident race.
Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus
Ten on Fergusson, three at Wasu and a couple of pairs around Keki.
Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida (H)
Heard in the distance above Satop.
Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster (H)
Three heard calling on Fergusson around Sabutuia.
Singing Bushlark Mirafra javanica
Six at Nadzab Airport.
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
The common NG swallow.
Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica (NL)
Trevor saw two at Nadzab, but they had gone by the time we got to the mown grass area.
MOTACILLIDAE Pipits and wagtails
Australasian Pipit Anthus australis
Now split from both Richard’s and New Zealand Pipits, we saw the distinctive NG highlands form exiguus at Mendi, including a very dark plumaged melanic bird on 11th. I think this is yet another split waiting to be recognised, it is a montane taxon with distinct calls.
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Two seen near POM.
Large-billed (Stout-billed) Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina caeruleogrisea
Seen well at Keki and by some at Warili.
Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina lineata
Seen nicely near Satop and at Keki sightings being of the very distinct NG race (axillaris), in which the males have little or no barring.
Boyer’s Cuckoo-shrike C. boyeri
Good views at Varirata and Keki.
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike C. papuensis
Singles at the PAU, Wasu and around Varirata.
Hooded Cuckoo-shrike C. longicauda
Good views of this large and spectacular species around Warili and also heard a lot this trip.
Black-shouldered (Cicadabird) Cuckoo-shrike C. morio
One near Satop and heard at Keki, this is a hill forest species.
Grey-headed Cuckoo-shrike C. schisticeps (H)
Heard at Keki.
Black Cuckoo-shrike C. melaena
A male at Varirata was a nice find.
Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrike C. montana
Good views around Satop and heard at Ambua.
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
Seen on Normanby, Fergusson and Dobu.
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Seen well at Warili and the Tari Gap, this is the black-headed race stresemanni.
MUSCICAPIDAE Old World Chats and flycatchers
Pied Chat (Pied Stonechat) Saxicola caprata
Common at Ambua and Jackson’s Airport.
Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus
A single up at the Tari Gap, looking remarkably like a greyish male Common Blackbird.
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
Seen at Alotau.
SYLVIIDAE Old World warblers
Island Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephala
Seen above Satop where birds had very striking head patterns and did not look like the subspecies found at Ambua, which we saw later. It is supposedly the same.
Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis
This lowland species was heard at Wasu and seems to extend up into the hills some way.
Papuan Grassbird Megalurus (timoriensis) papuensis
This was common above Ambua and what was presumed to be this species was above Satop too. The calls and the highland habitat are distinct from Australian birds and it is split in the new Howard and Moore Checklist.
Papuan Log-runner Orthonyx novaeguineae
We taped in a couple for brief glimpses up by the old container, associating with a Lesser Ground-robin, then Dave, Eric and I saw a male off Joseph’s Trail later. Split from Log-runner in 2002 on the basis of morphology, though the songs, calls and habits are just as distinct.
CINCLOSOMATIDAE Quail-thrushes and jewel-babblers
Spotted Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta (H)
One was calling quite close above Satop in pouring rain, but we got distracted by a mystery orange bird that proved to be an immature Regent Whistler.
Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens
A male was seen well by most of us at Varirata, a very shy and elusive species. Sorry Dolly Ann, you just had to have the right window!
INCERTAE SEDIS Uncertain affinities
Blue-capped Ifrita Ifrita kowaldi
It was very vocal this time above Ambua, with up to ten heard in a day, and small numbers seen nicely. Also heard above Satop. This is reputedly another member of the guild of poisonous birds.
Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris
Quite vocal above Ambua, and glimpsed by some below the Kabwum Pass.
White-shouldered Fairywren Malurus alboscapulatus
One seen at the hotel in Alotau and seen well near Varirata.
ACANTHIZIDAE Mouse warblers, gerygones and thornbills
Rusty Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis murina
This elusive bird was heard and showed briefly at Keki. The variations on a theme of three notes kept us entertained, albeit frustrated.
Mountain Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis robusta (H)
Heard at Ambua.
Large Scrubwren Sericornis nouhuysi
Quite a few sightings at Ambua this trip.
Buff-faced Scrubwren S. perspicillatus
Seen above Satop and at Ambua.
Papuan Scrubwren S. papuensis
Quite common up at the Tari Gap area.
Pale-billed Scrubwren S. spilodera
This scarce species was seen along the Varirata lookout Trail. The call sounds like a faint distant ambulance siren, a repetitive disyllabic ne-naw sound!
* Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus
Heard at Varirata and seen below Keki.
* Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa
Heard on Fergusson and seen a up at Keki where two males showed well.
Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster
Good views at Varirata.
Large-billed Gerygone G. magnirostris
Heard on Fergusson and seen on Dobu, and also heard near Wasu.
Brown-breasted (Tree-fern) Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis
Nice views near Warili, and a great smoky song.
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Seen almost everywhere from lowlands to hills, though my notes only have it for Normanby and Dobu.
Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris
Seen at Satop and heard near Keki.
Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata
Common at Ambua.
Chestnut-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hyperythra
Nice views at Varirata with a mixed feeding flock.
White-bellied Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax
One across the road below Satop.
Sooty Thicket-Fantail R. threnothorax
One up near Keki Lodge gave quite views for such a skulker.
Black Fantail Rhipidura atra
The species was seen well at Ambua.
Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha
Seen well at Ambua.
Mountain (Pygmy or Papuan) Drongo Chaetorhynchus papuensis
One of this scarce species at Varirata, then two up at Keki which gave very nice views.
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus carbonarius
Great views on Fergusson and Dobu and heard at Varirata. PNG birds of the race carbonarius have different calls to those in Australia. Coates splits it in his new photoguide.
Black Monarch Monarcha axillaris
This bizarre mimic of the male Black Fantail was seen well above Satop, where the white on the bend of the wing showed well.
* Black-winged Monarch M. frater
Two singles were seen up by Keki Lodge, foraging high in the canopy.
Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttula
Excellent views at Varirata, even for Dave eventually! Also heard on Fergusson.
Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela
A lovely view of a male at Varirata.
Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus
Great views of this curious endemic bird, even seeing the amazing ruff of a male at Varirata.
Ochre-collared Monarch Arses insularis (NL)
One was seen by some up at Keki. Both this species and Frill-necked (lorealis) of Cape York are recent splits from Frilled.
Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula
A male and female seen near Varirata.
Satin Flycatcher M. cyanoleuca
A female plumaged bird on Dobu showed characters of this species rather than Leaden, and there was a probable male on Fergusson.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer
A female was seen at Varirata.
Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus
Seen well above Satop and at Ambua, a very attractive bird.
Lesser Ground-Robin Amalocichla incerta
A curious bird came in when we were playing the NG log-runner tape, and one group saw it nicely again when we did the Chestnut Forest-Rail visit.
Torrent Flycatcher Monachella muelleriana
One along the river by Dauli College.
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher Microeca flavigaster
The savanna birds at Varirata showed well.
Olive Flycatcher M. flavovirescens
One at Keki gave good views; this is always a rather difficult species to find.
Canary Flycatcher Microeca papuana
A good views at Satop and in the Ambua area, bright yellow with orange legs.
Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra
A brief view of a male near the Bailey Bridge. A very curious species, an arboreal gerygone-like robin!
Banded Yellow Robin Poecilodryas placens
This rare and local species was found below Keki Lodge, where we heard up to five calling and put in several hours to get everyone on to a single quite responsive but exceedingly flighty bird. This was Phil’s first for over ten years!
Black-throated Robin P. albonotata
Heard above Satop and seen at Ambua, quite a large species.
White-winged Robin P. sigillatus
Two were seen below the Tari Gap area as usual. A very attractive bird.
Blue-grey Robin Peneothello cyanus
Lovely views above Satop and at Ambua, quite a confiding species.
Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis
Heard above Satop and at Ambua, where some of us got brief views of one bird. This is often lumped with the Grey-headed Robin of FNQ, but the calls, songs, habits and habitat are quite different.
PACHYCEPHALIDAE Whistlers and shrike-thrushes
Mottled Whistler Rhagologus leucostigma
A pair seen nicely in the rain below Kabwum Pass, always a tricky species to find.
Dwarf Whistler Pachycare flavogrisea
This aberrant species, currently placed with whistlers, was heard at Varirata and seen by one or two I think. I wonder what family this bird really belongs among?
Rufous-naped Whistler Aleadryas rufinucha
Nice views of this odd species above Satop and at Ambua.
Brown-backed Whistler Pachycephala modesta
Seen well on several occasions above Satop, this is a PNG endemic.
Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex
Seen at Varirata and Keki, NG birds are often called Grey-headed Whistler. Also heard on Fergusson.
Sclater’s Whistler Pachycephala soror
A male above Satop, and again at Ambua.
Regent Whistler P. schlegelii
Nice views above Satop and at Ambua, of both males and females, with one of the orange coloured immatures causing us initial puzzlement above Satop.
Black-headed Whistler Pachycephala monacha
A pair seen nicely in Casuarinas at Kabwum.
Little Shrike-thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha
One on Fergusson and heard near Satop and Keki.
Grey Shrike-thrush Colluricincla harmonica
Seen well at the PAU.
Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus
Brief views of several brownish-headed birds in the Keki area, and also one near Satop. Immatures lack the dark head.
Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous
Frequent at Varirata, where they showed nicely, and one at Keki.
Rusty Pitohui P. ferrugineus
Seen by some near Keki, where it was also heard.
Black Pitohui P. nigrescens
A male of this scarce and skulking species was seen above Ambua by one group.
Papuan Sittella Daphoenositta papuensis
This newly split taxon was seen above Satop (a male), and some ten birds were seen at Ambua as they flew across.
Black Sittella D. miranda
Four showed quite well, spotted from the back of the lorry as we came through the Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia trees and duly scoped.
Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus
One seen near Satop and a couple up at Keki.
* Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax
One seen quite well up at Keki, always an uncommon and elusive bird.
Red-throated Myzomela M. eques
One was seen below Keki on March 19th.
Dusky Honeyeater M. obscura
One near Keki Lodge.
Papuan Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita
Seen on Dobu and Fergusson, this distinctive taxon forbesi has a small red cap and must be a potential split.
Mountain Red-headed Myzomela Myzomela adolphinae
Seen well at Varirata with a fine tiny male atop a huge gum, and some saw one above Satop.
Red-collared Myzomela M. rosenbergii
Common on the Huon above Satop, and a male at Ambua.
Red Myzomela M. cruentata
Three males of this scarce species were seen in a flowering tree by Keki Lodge.
Forest White-eared Honeyeater Meliphaga montana
Glimpsed in the Keki area
* Graceful Honeyeater M. (gracilis) cinereifrons
This potential split with the large yellow ear patch, which does not give the “plik” call of FNQ birds, was seen at Varirata.
Mountain Meliphaga M. orientalis
This small montane Meliphaga was seen above Satop.
Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus
Good views on the Huon where it was very vocal, up to six seen in a day. Heard at Ambua.
Varied Honeyeater L. versicolor
Seen at Alotau and Wasu.
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens
Seen at the PAU, the race here (germana) has curious call similar to Fuscous Honeyeater in Far North Queensland.
* Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer
The birds are much duller on the north slope of the island, where we saw them at Keki. Also heard on Fergusson.
Spotted Honeyeater X. polygramma
One was seen in a flowering tree near Keki Lodge.
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis
Well seen at Varirata.
Plain Honeyeater Pycnopygius ixoides
Three of this rather uncommon species were seen well at Keki.
Marbled Honeyeater P. cinereus
This scarce high altitude species was seen above Satop, and again by the Blue Bird group at Warili.
Streak-headed Honeyeater P. stictocephalus (H)
Heard at Varirata only this trip.
Meyer’s Friarbird P. meyeri
One of these small dull friarbirds was near Keki Lodge.
New Guinea Friarbird (Helmeted) Philemon (novaeguineae) buceroides
Common in the lowlands and hills with the north coast birds quite different to the southern ones. It was seen on all three of the D’Entrecasteaux islands that we visited. Now again lumped with Helmeted by Clements, maybe prematurely.
Rufous-backed Honeyeater Ptiloprora guisei
Unexpectedly common on the Huon, and good views near the lodge at Ambua, a PNG endemic.
Grey-streaked (Black-backed) Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata
Quite common at Ambua and irritatingly renamed by Sibley and Monroe and hence Clements.
Sooty Melidectes Melidectes fuscus (NL)
Trevor claimed one of this rare species above Ambua.
Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi
Noisy and annoyingly common at higher levels at Ambua!
Yellow-browed Melidectes Melidectes rufocrissalis
Common in the Tari Valley and at the Lodge.
Cinnamon-browed Melidectes M. ochromelas
This was the common melidectes on the Huon, but was quite elusive, our day maximum being eight.
Ornate Melidectes M. ornatus
Nice views near Satop, where we saw five in a day.
Huon Melidectes M. foersteri
We got brief views in wet and misty conditions of a melidectes with blue facial skin below the Kabwum Pass, which looked good for this Huon endemic species, at the lower level of its altitudinal limit here, and far outnumbered by the Cinnamon-browed. This was a tick for Phil, but clearly a BVD.
Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus
Common at Ambua, where it has the endearing habit of blushing, the facial disc going from yellow to red!
Spangled Honeyeater M. ater
This large and quite spectacular Huon endemic was fairly common above Satop, we saw up to six in a day.
Brown-backed Honeyeater Ramsayornis modestus
One was seen on Fergusson.
Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis
A few were seen at the PAU and Nadzab.
Black Sunbird Nectarinia aspasia
Seen on Fergusson and Dobu.
Yellow-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis
Seen on all three D’Entrecasteaux islands, and at Wasu.
Red-capped Flowerpecker (Papuan Flowerpecker) Dicaeum (pectorale) geelvinkianum
Good views at various sites from Ambua to Varirata. The endemic race violaceum was seen on Normanby and Dobu.
MELANOCHARITIDAE Berrypeckers and longbills
Obscure Berrypecker Melanocharis arfakiana
One seen in the canopy at Keki Lodge again, still a virtually unknown bird.
Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra
Good views in the forest understorey up at Keki.
Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri
Males were seen well on the Huon above Satop and at Ambua.
Mid-mountain Berrypecker Melanocharis longicauda
Two were seen above Satop, the yellow pectoral tufts being a good field character.
(Spotted Berrypecker Rhamphocaris crassirostris) (NL)
Two mysterious spotted birds were seen above Satop, and may have been this species.
Yellow-bellied Longbill Toxorhamphus novaeguineae (NL)
One was seen at Keki by Dave.
Slaty-chinned Longbill T. poliopterus
One was seen on the Huon above Satop.
Dwarf Longbill (Honeyeater) Oedistoma iliolophum
This was an unexpected find on Fergusson, and gave a good view for some of us. Also heard at Varirata and Keki.
Pygmy Longbill (Honeyeater) O. pygmaeum
A great view of this tiny and easily missed species en route to the Hot Springs on Fergusson. This is NG’s smallest bird.
PARAMYTHIIDAE Painted berrypeckers
Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki
Good views of this gorgeous looking mutant Great Tit look-alike at Ambua. An endemic family too.
Crested Berrypecker Paramythia montium
Nice views up at the Gap, a great bird of an endemic family.
Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops atrifrons
Heard at Varirata, this is the common lowland and hill forest white-eye. Four of the race minor were seen near Keki.
Western Mountain White-eye (Dark-capped White-eye) Zosterops fuscicapillus
One above Satop, and some saw them at Ambua.
New Guinea White-eye Z. novaeguineae
Fairly common on the Huon above Satop, the song is distinct from Black-fronted White-eye even though the plumage is similar. This is a curiously local species in PNG
Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus
Nice views on three days above Ambua along Joseph’s Trail and up below the Gap, the maximum three birds.
Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa
Two were seen on the Huon and two at Ambua.
Papuan Parrot-Finch Erythrura papuana (NL)
One group saw one in the usual area below Warili. Cryptic and poorly known.
Grey-headed Mannikin Lonchura caniceps
This was our first endemic for the trip, with ten seen at the PAU. It is actually a restricted range endemic only found in SE PNG.
Hooded Mannikin Lonchura spectabilis
Seen nicely at Ambua, with rich buff underparts. Back in the early 90s they were white beneath! Also one at Mendi.
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin Lonchura castaneothorax
Fifty on Normanby.
PLOCEIDAE Weavers and sparrows
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
The sparrow only colonized PNG since 1992, so finding the first records for the Highlands at Mendi airstrip was significant. Here we saw six birds including a female and an immature male. Our pilot first noted them here on Jan 23rd 2004. We also duly logged it in POM. PNG has only two introduced species on the mainland (this and the Feral Pigeon), plus Common Myna (which may now be extirpated) on Bougainville
STURNIDAE Starlings and mynas
Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica
Seen on Dobu and Fergusson only this trip.
Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides
Good views of a pair on Normanby, and also seen at Alotau, Port Moresby and Madang.
Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii
Good views at the PAU, Wasu, Varirata and Keki; it has a curious frog-like call.
ORIOLIDAE Old World Orioles
Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi
Good views at Alotau, Wasu and Varirata. It is an amazing mimic of a friarbird in appearance, or is it vice versa?
Figbird Sphecotheres viridis
Several seen at the PAU, where the males of the taxon salvadorii have a greyish chest and are much greener than the FNQ birds.
White-breasted Wood-swallow Artamus leucorhynchus
A few around POM, then seen on all three D’Entrecasteaux islands.
Great Wood-swallow Artamus maximus
First seen near Satop, then lovely views at Ambua, Mendi and Tari.
CRACTICIDAE Butcherbirds and peltops
Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus
Great views at Satop and Ambua.
* Black-backed Butcherbird Cracticus mentalis
Good views at the PAU and near Varirata.
Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus
Good views on Dobu and Fergusson, then at Varirata and Keki.
Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi
Heard at Wasu, and seen at Warili and Piakonda.
PTILONORHYNCHIDAE Bowerbirds and catbirds
White-eared Catbird Ailuroedus buccoides (H)
Heard at Keki on two dates, always very difficult to see.
Macgregor’s Bowerbird Amblyornis macgregoriae
Phil saw one of the Huon taxon germanus that makes a distinct bower, up on the south side of the Kabwum Pass crest. This is a potential split, (c/f. Coates and Peckover 2001) a pity it didn’t hang around. We also saw a bower of the usual form at Ambua, and the Blue Bird group saw one below Warili.
Fire-maned Bowerbird Sericulus alberti
Fantastic views of this restricted range rarity, still seen by only a select few westerners. A male came and perched right out atop a tall tree below the lodge for some ten minutes one morning, and a pair came and fed briefly in the tall fig by the lodge one morning. We saw three birds on March 18th and a male on the 19th. Worth the hike!
* Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris
Good views at the PAU, with a spectacular bower.
Crested Bird of Paradise Cnemophilus macgregoriae
A brilliant orange and black male found by Eric some way below the wrecked container along the bushy slope which is a good area for them. This is always a tricky species to find. Now moved to Cnemophilines, a new family.
Loria's Bird of Paradise Cnemophilus loriae (H)
This was the first visit in which I have not seen one at Ambua, though we did hear one on March 14th. They seem to have become much less obvious of late. Also now moved to Cnemophilines, a new family.
PARADISAEIDAE Birds of Paradise
Curl-crested Manucode Manucodia
We heard the strange bubbling call behind Esa’ala and saw two birds at some range on a hill slope for starters, though some came back later and got very nice close views of this strange bird. Next day on Fergusson we really saw them very nicely, with loose flocks moving through the canopy at one point. We had nice close views of several birds on Dobu Island, clearly quite common and widespread on these islands where tall trees remain. Curiously we did not hear or see the local form of Trumpet Manucode at all. The local name is “mailulu” and may reflect the lovely wavering call?
Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus (NL)
One group saw this species at a fruiting tree Warili. This is the largest of the BoP's, a rather rare bird that is extirpated from the more accessible areas.
Brown Sicklebill Epimachus meyeri
Nice views of a male, the pale blue eye being very obvious when seen well. Also memorable for its amazing machine-gun like call, which we heard a number of times.
Superb Bird of Paradise Lophorina superba
A male showing well and calling above Satop, then again below Warili Lodge, with a downy juvenile at Piakonda. A fine and truly bizarre bird.
Lawes’ Parotia Parotia lawesii
Good looks at female plumaged birds at Warili and Benson’s place too.
Wahnes’ Parotia Parotia wahnesi
This rather rare Huon / Adelbert endemic gave very nice views just above Satop, strangely enough more or less where I saw them in 1994. We saw at least two males and four female plumaged birds, whilst the first sighting a km or so above Satop (which some others and I missed) on March 13th sounds like a young male.
Magnificent Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus magnificus
Two female plumaged birds seen at Keki but not at all tape responsive despite males calling at several sites by the Lodge. Wrong time of year I guess.
Ribbon-tailed Astrapia Astrapia mayeri
Lovely views of a male and up to five in a day female plumaged birds at Ambua, the males being one of the most bizarre and spectacular of all birds. Another restricted range PNG endemic.
Stephanie's Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae
Seen well below the Bailey bridge at Tari, including a superb male. A PNG endemic too.
King of Saxony Bird of Paradise Pteridophora alberti
Excellent views of a young male complete with half-grown head wires below the Bailey bridge, and female plumaged birds showed well on several occasions with a presumed immature male giving a shorter simpler version of the adult’s swizzling song.
Lesser Bird of Paradise Paradisaea minor
We had great views of a fine male and female plumaged birds near Keki, but they were quite shy and wary. The last BoP of the trip.
Raggiana Bird of Paradise Paradisaea raggiana
A brilliant perched male at Varirata was the first of many birds of paradise, and we had very nice views. This species is a PNG endemic.
Goldie’s Bird-of-Paradise P. decora
This restricted range endemic performed brilliantly at a lowland site that David knew near Sabutuia Village on Fergusson, saving us several hours flog up into the hills at 600m. The first sighting was brief views of a female plumaged bird that was calling, then we got onto two males doing some odd kind of static display, and which sat for ages at close range, just fantastic. We are the first bird tour to see the species which has only been seen by a very few birders anyway. The local name is “siae” and the species is only found on Normanby and Fergusson, usually up in the hills.
Emperor Bird-of-Paradise P. guilielmi
Two immatures were seen in low fruiting trees just above Satop, allowing quite nice scope views. I had not expected it to be this high up and this was a very fortunate pick-up, well-spotted Eric, how glad I am that we checked your bird! They were loosely associated with the Huon Astrapia and the Wahnes Parotias too.
Blue Bird of-Paradise Paradisaea rudolphi (NL)
The Blue Bird group got nice views of them at a fruiting tree near Wata village, with Stephen and Benson as the guides. Another PNG endemic, and a distinctly Vulnerable one as the habitat lies in a heavily settled zone.
Grey Crow Corvus tristis
Nice looks at this bizarre species on the Huon and at Varirata, and very common with up to 20 at Keki.
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Quite common around POM, seen on all three D’Entrecasteaux islands and at Madang.
Spectacled Flying-fox Pteropus conspicillatus
Large noisy camps in Madang, hundreds of individuals despite being good kaikai.
A small species was seen on Dobu.
Agile Wallaby Macropus agilis
One at Varirata gave brief views.
Forest rat sp.
One at Warili on March 14th had a long tail and was quite noisy in the roof at night!
Two came out of a hollow tree up at the Varirata Lookout on March 21st. We got great views and they seemed far larger than the Australian version, but this is the only glider listed for the park.
Ten off East Cape on March 7th.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus
Seven off Normanby on March 11th.
Two bright green skinks were on Fergusson.
A bright green 10cm skink sp. with pale blue flanks also on Fergusson.
A bright green 10cm skink sp. with a conspicuous reddish tail was on Dobu.
Black snake sp. one at Varirata
Ornithoptera priamus poseidon
A pair of beautiful birdwings at Keki, dwarfed by their congener.
Goliath Birdwing Ornithoptera goliath
This huge species was visiting a flowering Aristolochia vine by the lodge gate, and we saw both males and females coming there
Ulysses Swallowtail Papilio ulysses
The spectacular blue morpho-like swallowtail was common in lowland forests.
© Phil Gregory, Cassowary House, Black Mountain Road, Kuranda 4872, Queensland, Australia. Phone: (61) 07 40 937318 Fax: (61) 07 40 939855
Web site: www. cassowary-house.com.au (PG June 2004)
Bird book References
Beehler, B., Pratt T. and Zimmerman, D. (1986). Birds of New Guinea. Princeton. The standard field guide for New Guinea, now a bit out of date but still essential.
Beehler, B. and Frith C. (1998). Birds of Paradise. Oxford University Press. A very thorough monograph on the family, hard to read but the modern reference on the group.
Coates B. J. (1990). Birds of Papua New Guinea Vol. 2. Dove publications, Alderley. This volume covers the birds of paradise and has some wonderful photographs. Out of print.
Coates, B. J. and Peckover, W. (2001) Photoguide to the Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Dove Publications.
Cooper, W. T. and Forshaw, J. M. (1977). The birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Collins, Sydney. A terrific work with best ever illustrations, large format in slipcase. Out of print but well worth tracking down.